Immediate Physical Complications and Under-Reporting
The major immediate complications of abortion are infection, bleeding, and
perforation of the uterus.
What of the validity of studies?
In all reports on physical safety or harm from abortions, it is important
to remember one fact. Literally all studies have been done in the
medically sophisticated setting of university hospital centers, and by
highly trained surgeons. These, however, constitute less than 10% of
Over 90% of abortions in the U.S. are done in unsupervised free-standing
clinics. These are done without pre- or post-surgical care, on an assembly
line basis, for cash, and often by doctors with minimal training,
unsophisticated equipment, and inadequately trained personnel.
Clearly, the safety of abortions done in such clinics cannot be compared
to that in a university hospital. Clinics probably have double or triple
the number and seriousness of the physical complications reported in the
How often do women get infection as a consequence of induced abortion?
A study from one of the most prestigious medical centers in the world,
John Hopkins University, reported: "Occurrence of genital tract infection
following elective abortion is a well-known complication." This
institution reports rates up to 5.2% for first trimester abortions and up
to 18.5% in midtrimester.
Burkman et al., "Culture and Treatment Results in Endometritis Following
Elective Abortion," Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 128, no. 5, 1977, pp.
For the local freestanding abortion facility in your community, with far
inferior quality of care, the number of such infections will be at least
double that of such a medical center.
"One sequel to abortion can be a killer. This is pelvic abscess, almost
always from a perforation of the uterus and sometimes also of the bowel,"
said two professors from UCLA, in reporting on four such cases.
C. Gassner & C. Ballard, Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 48, p. 716 (as reported
in Emerg. Med. After Abortion-Abscess, vol. 19, no. 4, Apr. 1977
In an underdeveloped country, complications are more frequent and
treatment is usually less available and effective.
Can infection cause damage?
Infection in the womb and tubes often does permanent damage. The Fallopian
tube is a fragile organ, a very tiny bore tube. If infection injures it,
it often seals shut. The typical infection involving these organs is
pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).
Patients with Chlamydia Trachomatous infection of the cervix (13% in this
series) who get induced abortion "run a 23% risk of developing PID."
E. Quigstad et al., British Jour. of Venereal Disease, June 1982, p. 182
"Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) is difficult to manage and often leads
to infertility, even with prompt treatment . . . Approximately 10% of
women will develop tubal adhesions leading to infertility after one
episode of PID, 30% after two episodes, and more than 60% after three
M. Spence, "PID: Detection & Treatment," Sexually Transmitted Disease
Bulletin, John Hopkins Univ., vol. 3, no. 1, Feb. 1983
"Acute inflammatory conditions occur in 5% of the cases, whereas permanent
complications such as chronic inflammatory conditions of the female
organs, sterility, and ectopic [tubal] pregnancies are registered in
20-30% of all women. . . these are definitely higher in primigravidas
[aborted for first pregnancy]."
A. Kodasek, "Artificial Termination of Pregnancy in Czechoslovakia,"
Internat'l Jour. GYN/OB, vol. 9, no. 3, 1971
Venereal disease, usually Gonorrhea or Chlamydia, causes PID. This, if
present, vastly complicates an induced abortion.
"Chlamydia trachomatous was cultured from the cervix in 70 of 557 women
admitted for therapeutic abortion. Among the 70, 22 developed acute PID
postoperatively (4% of the total)."
E. Quigstad et al., "PID Associated with C. Trachomatous Infection, A
Prospective Study," British Jour. of Venereal Disease, vol. 59, no. 3,
1982, pp. 189-192
Another study revealed a 17% incidence of post-abortal Chlamydia
Barbacci et al., "Post Abortal Endometritis and Chlamydia," OB & GYN,
In a classic English study at a university hospital which reported on four
years' experience, "there was a 27% complication rate from infection."
J.A. Stallworthy et al., "Legal Abortion: A Critical Assessment of its
Risks," The Lancet, Dec. 4, 1971
What of bleeding?
Bleeding is common. Most get by, but some need blood transfusions. The
Stallworthy study (above) reported that 9.5% needed transfusions. Most
recent studies are reporting smaller percentages.
Are blood transfusions a cause of death in abortions?
Yes, and these deaths are never associated directly nor reported as
statistics related to abortions. Here is how this works:
First, we must know how many women need blood transfusions after getting
induced abortions. These figures are hard to come by. The only controlled
studies are from university medical centers, which do only a small
fraction of all abortions. Over 90% of abortions in the U.S. and varying
percentages in other nations are done in free-standing abortion chambers
where the medical care is only a faint shadow of the competence of those
medical centers. Women who hemorrhage from these abortions are sent to
"real" hospitals for transfusions and surgery. The percentage who need
transfusions then must remain an estimate as these commerical
establishments do not report this.
How many then? Let's be conservative and say that one in every hundred
needs a blood transfusion. If there are 1,600,000 abortions annually in
the United States, this means that 1% or 16,000 women were transfused.
Viral hepatitis is transmitted in up to 10% of patients transfused. Ten
percent of 16,000 is 1,600 women.
Amer. Assn. Blood Banks and Amer. Red Cross, Circular Information, 1984,
An analysis of 300,000 cases of Hepatitis virus infection showed that
deaths occurred from three causes: 322 from acute disease, 5100 from
cirrhosis, and 1200 from liver cancer. This mortality rate is over 2%.
R. Voelker, Hepatitis B: Planned Standard, Am. Med. News, Oct. 13, '89, pg
Two percent of 1600 women means that ultimately 32 deaths result annually
from abortions for this reason.
AIDS is another threat. Two percent of AIDS has been acquired by blood
transfusions. With recent careful screening techniques, this is now much
less. Even so, 200-400 people in developed countries, per year, are still
being exposed via blood transfusions.
Noyes, "Transfusions Risk Despite Screening," Family Practice News, May
In underdeveloped nations the AIDs threat ranges from seldom to common.
Are blood clots ever a problem?
Blood clots are one of the causes of death to mothers who deliver babies
normally. They are also a cause of death in healthy young women who have
Embolism (floating objects in the blood that go to the lungs) is another
problem. Childbirth is a normal process, and the body is well prepared for
the birth of the child and the separation and expulsion of the placenta.
Surgical abortion is an abnormal process, and slices the unripe placenta
from the wall of the uterus into which its roots have grown. This
sometimes causes the fluid around the baby, or other pieces of tissue or
blood clots, to be forced into the mother's circulation. These then travel
to her lungs, causing damage and occasional death. This is also a major
cause of maternal deaths from the salt poisoning method of abortion.
For instance, pulmonary thromboembolism (blood clots to the lungs) was the
cause of eight mothers dying from abortions, as reported to the U.S.
Center for Disease Control.
W. Cates et al., Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 132, p. 169
And this can occur in those as young as 14 years old.
Pediatrics, vol. 68, no. 4, Oct. 1971
Also, amniotic fluid embolism has "emerged as an important cause of death
from legally induced abortion." Of 15 cases, the risk seems to be greater
after three months. Treatment is ineffective."
R. Guidotti et al., Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 41, 1981, p. 257
And has an 80% mortality rate.
S. Clark, Amniotic Fluid Embolism, the Female Patient, vol. 14, Aug. '89,
There are other blood-related problems?
The most feared is Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation. This is a
sudden drop in blood clotting ability which causes extensive internal
bleeding and sometimes death. The classic paper was on hypertonic saline
(salt poisoning) abortions (see reference below).
H. Glueck et al., "Hypertonic Saline Abortion, Correlation with D.I.C.,"
JAMA, vol. 225, no. 1, July 2, 1973, pp. 28-29
"Saline-induced abortion is now the first or second most common cause of
obstetric hypofibrinogenemia." [Same as D.I.C. above].
L. Talbert, Univ. of NC, "DIC More Common Threat with Use of Saline
Abortion," Family Practice News, vol. 5, no. 19, Oct. 1975
Since then, it has also been caused by D&E and Prostaglandin abortions.
White et al., "D.I.C. Following Three Mid-Trimester Abortions,"
Anaesthesiology, vol. 58, 1983, pp. 99-100
What causes perforation of the uterus?
It can be caused by suction, D&C, or D&E abortions. Salt poisoning and
Prostaglandin-type abortions also cause perforations, but it is then more
accurately described as a rupture or blow-out of the uterus.
How often does perforation occur?
For early abortions, it is plus or minus 1%. In the later ones, it is more
I've heard that Prostaglandin abortions are safer than the Salt Poisoning
This is certainly true for the baby, as more are born alive with this
method (see chapter 13).
It is probably also true for the mother. Nevertheless, complications
include uterine rupture, cervical laceration, sepsis, mild to severe
Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation, hemorrhage, sudden death,
convulsions, cardio-respiratory arrest, vomiting and aspiration, stroke,
acute kidney failure, amniotic fluid embolus, and blood clots to the lung.
A major study from the University of Texas, Dallas, concluded:
". . . a large complication rate (42.6%) is associated with its
[Prostaglandin] use. Few risks in obstetrics are more certain than that
which occurs to the gravida [pregnant woman] undergoing abortion after the
14th week of pregnancy."
Duenhoelter & Grant, "Complications Following Prostaglandin F-2A Induced
Midtrimester Abortion," Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, vol. 46, no. 3, Sept. 1975,
Why don't we hear more about such complications?
A busy chief of an OB department in Ft. Lauderdale reported, "An unusually
large number of complications are being seen by private physicians.
Because many of these adolescent patients, in whom complications develop,
do not return to the physician who did the abortion, accurate data on
complications are difficult to obtain."
He then discussed 54 teenage patients seen in his private practice (he
does not do abortions) in a six-year period. He also noted that, of the
young women, "none felt they had been given any meaningful information as
to the potential dangers of abortion."
M. Bulfin, "A New Problem in Adolescent Gynecology," Southern Med. Jour.,
vol. 72, no. 8, Aug. 1979
"There has been almost a conspiracy of silence in declaring its risks.
Unfortunately, because of emotional reactions to legal abortion,
well-documented evidence from countries with a vast experience of it
receives little attention in either the medical or lay press. This is
medically indefensible when patients suffer as a result.
"It is significant that some of the more serious complications occurred
with the most senior and experienced operators.
"[These complications] are seldom mentioned by those who claim that
abortion is safe . . ."
J.A. Stallworthy et al., "Legal Abortion: A Critical Assessment of its
Risks," The Lancet, Dec. 4, 1971
Do the statisticians admit their figures are inaccurate?
They seldom do, and that is incredible. Ask a health officer what the
Gonorrhea incidence is in his or her county and you will be given the
number officially reported. But ask again, "How many cases are there
actually?" The answer will likely be, "Oh, we know that only a small
percent are actually reported. If you want the true incidence, multiply by
three or five or more."
Since the reason to cover up an abortion is far more compelling than the
reason to cover up a case of sexually transmitted disease, it should be
obvious, as indicated above, that most abortion deaths and injuries are
not reported, or are reported as something else.
Reported cases of Gonorrhea increased from 600,000 to 1 million in a
five-year period, and "it is estimated that only one-third are reported."
S. Gabbe, OB-GYN News, Oct. 1, 1983, p. 15
I thought that reporting an abortion was required by law.
In many states and nations, reporting is not required. For example, almost
five years after legalization of abortion nationwide, the Department of
Health of the State of Ohio stated, "The reporting on this statistic has
been very minimal. At the present time, there is no information available
as to complications of the abortion procedure."
K. Bajo, Asst. Adm., Ohio Dept. of Health Report to Ohio Right to Life,
May 3, 1977
But there are studies from universities that report much better safety
Some reports are correct. Some of the questionable reports, however, are
written by well-known abortionists who are profiting from this grisly
business. There are no well-funded, comparably-sized studies done by
Also, the standard of care at a university teaching hospital is far better
than that at your local abortion mill. The so-called "freestanding
clinics," which do over 90% of all abortions in the U.S., are often little
better than back-alley operations that have been legalized, and their
follow-up care (and ability to report accurately) is usually nonexistent.
The claim that relevant statistics can be collected from the place where
the abortion was performed "is little short of science fiction."
"Complications following abortions performed in free-standing clinics is
one of the most frequent gynecologic emergencies. . . encountered. Even
life-endangering complications rarely come to the attention of the
physician who performed the abortion unless the incident entails
litigation. The statistics presented by Cates represent substantial
under-reporting and disregard women's reluctance to return to a clinic,
where, in their mind, they received inadequate treatment."
L. Iffy, "Second Trimester Abortions," JAMA, vol. 249, no. 5, Feb. 4,
1983, p. 588.
But, at least deaths are reported accurately?
All deaths, of course, are reported, but not all abortion deaths are
reported as abortion related. If nondisclosure (and, therefore,
nonreporting) of venereal disease is the rule, not the exception, how much
more pressure is there on the doctor to not disclose that this
complication and/or death was related to an induced abortion? Your
authors' Handbook on Abortion detailed many specific instances of such
cover-up during the 1970s.
Willke & Willke, "Mothers Die from Abortions." In Handbook on Abortion,
Cincinnati: Hayes Pub. Co., 1971, 1975, 1979 Editions
* Consider the mother who hemorrhaged, was transfused, got hepatitis, and
died months later. Official cause of death, Hepatitis. Actual cause,
* A perforated uterus leads to pelvic abscess, sepsis (blood poisoning),
and death. The official report of the cause of death may list pelvic
abscess and septicemia. Abortion will not be listed.
* Abortion causes tubal pathology. She has an ectopic pregnancy years
later and dies. The cause listed will be ectopic pregnancy. The actual
* Deep depression and guilt following an abortion leads to suicide. The
cause listed, suicide! Actual cause, abortion.
* If the abortionist does the follow-up care and the patient dies from the
abortion, the abortionist doesn't want the reputation of being a butcher,
so another cause is listed.
* Usually, however, a different doctor sees a patient who dies from the
damage done from an abortion, but she and her family hotly deny the
abortion. The abortion connection cannot be absolutely proven, and the new
doctor fears a suit for malpractice or for defamation of character, and so
he lists another cause.
* The kindhearted surgeon, unable to save the life of an abortion victim,
feels that she and her family have been punished enough. He doesn't want
to ruin her and her family's reputation in the community -- so he forgets
to mention abortion on the death certificate.
How about specific cases? Recently?
One abortion chamber, Woman's Care Center, Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL,
"killed" four mothers: R. Montero (August 7, 1979), M. Morales (May 8,
1981), M. Baptise (December 18, 1982), and S. Payne (January 4, 1983).
The pro-abortion Chicago Sun Times ran a multi-issue expose' in 1978. They
discovered 12 mothers who had died from abortions, who had previously been
unreported. They also reported abortions being done on non-pregnant women
as well as some by incompetent medical persons in unsterile conditions.
"What the Supreme Court legalized in some clinics in Chicago is the highly
profitable and very dangerous back-room abortion."
Special Reprint, Chicago Sun Times, Field Enterprises, 1978
That sounds like only a fraction of maternal abortion deaths are actually
reported as such!
Most active pro-life people are convinced of this.
But I read that abortion is safer than childbirth!
The most professional analysis of this was by Professor T. Hilgers. He
shows that it depends upon the statistics that you use.
T. Hilgers, "Abortion Related Maternal Mortality." New Perspectives on
Human Abortion, Univ. Pub. of Amer., 1981, pp. 69-92
But which is safer?
Safety probably isn't a factor. Women don't have babies or choose abortion
because of safety. Maternal mortality in childbirth is only 10 deaths per
Another interesting consideration is that pro-abortion people always
compare reported figures of all maternal deaths (10 per 100,000) to
mortality figures for only first trimester abortions (1-2 per 100,000),
conveniently omitting the deaths from second and third trimester abortions
(40-50 per 100,000). If the pro-lifers were to play the same statistical
game, they should speak only of deaths from vaginal deliveries (1.1 per
100,000) and omit those from C-section deliveries (100 per 100,000).
Lanska et al., "Mortality from Abortion & Childbirth," JAMA, vol. 250, no.
3, July 15, 1983, pp. 361-362.
Even so, the situation today is better than the "8,000 to 10,000 women who
died annually in the U.S.A. from back-alley abortions," isn't it?
U.S. BUREAU OF VITAL STATISTICS CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL
Reported Maternal Deaths from Abortion in U.S.
||Deaths from legal and illegal abortions
|1966 First State legalized abortion in 1967
|1972 Supreme Court decision in 1973
NOTE: Most abortion deaths are not reported because when they receive
emergency care they are listed as a "problem pregnancy" and listed under
"childbirth deaths" This not only fudges the abortion death statistics but
also gives an unreal number for pregnancy deaths. Wilke had noticed that
abortion deaths were under reported but later research showed what was
happening and why this was. When Wilke wrote his book, it was generally
thought, even in the medical field, that abortion was safer than
childbirth because of these grossly fudged statistics. END NOTE
Taken from U.S. Senate graph Chapter 21.
Commenting on the fact that the decline of maternal abortion deaths was
greater for the years 1961-68 than after legalization of abortion in the
years 1968-73, Dr. Dennis Cavanaugh stated that, since abortion has been
". . . there has been no major impact on the number of women dying from
abortion in the U.S. . . . After all, it really makes no difference
whether a woman dies from legal or illegal abortion, she is dead
nonetheless. I find no comfort in the fact that legal abortion is now the
leading cause of abortion-related maternal deaths in the U.S."
D. Cavanaugh, "Effect of Liberalized Abortion on Maternal Mortality
Rates," Amer. Jour. OB/GYN, Feb. 1, 1978, p. 375
What, then, is the bottom line?
Most women have abortions without significant physical injury, but a
disturbing number do sustain damage, and some die.
NB: Recent research has shown that 25 percent of surgically aborted
women suffer some type of serious complication including bleeding out,
sterility etc. This is a higher percentage than formerly thought when Dr
Wilke wrote this book. And of course according to 38 worldwide studies,
there is a greatly increased risk of breast cancer among aborted women.
This was also unknown at the time that Dr Wilke wrote this book.
Thus the bottom line in the 21st century is that a SIGNIFICANT
number of women suffer lifelong physical damage from abortion including a
greatly increased risk of breast cancer as much as 250 percent in women
who aborted under the age of 18 (according to the Janet Daling study for
one and others also) and 85 percent of women suffer lifelong psychological
damage from abortion including increased suicides, addiction, post
traumatic stress etc.
Abortion, it seems is as unhealthy for the woman as it is for the
Many women end up with real emotional and guilt after-effects.
ABORTIONS MAY BE LEGAL BUT THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS SAFE